Romanian princess and husband plead guilty in Oregon cockfighting case
The authorities said the couple charged punters $20 to attend the events and $1,000 to enter their cock in a bout
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Thursday 17 July 2014
A Romanian princess has pleaded guilty to charges connected with an illegal cockfighting operation at her ranch in rural Oregon.
Irina Walker, 61, is a great-great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and the third daughter of the former Romanian King Michael I, who was forced to abdicate by the country’s communist government in 1947.
Prosecutors said Ms Walker and her 68-year-old husband, John, held at least 10 cockfighting derbies in a barn at their ranch in Irrigon, Oregon, in 2012 and 2013. They were arrested last summer. On Wednesday, Mrs Walker pleaded guilty to a single count of operating an illegal gambling venture, telling US District Judge Michael Mosman that she had “provided food and beverages” for spectators at the events, for which knives, or “gaffs”, are fitted to the legs of two cocks, which then fight to the death. The practice is illegal under federal and state law.
The authorities said the couple charged punters $20 (£11.70) to attend the events and $1,000 to enter their cock in a bout. The crowds reportedly numbered 100 or more and the betting pool reached as much as $18,000. According to USA Today, 10 per cent went to the referees, while the rest was won by the person whose cock emerged triumphant from the most fights.
Charges against another woman, hired to prepare tacos and burritos at the events, were dropped.
Born and raised in Switzerland, Irina moved to the US in 1983 with her first husband, whom she later divorced before marrying Mr Walker, a former sheriff’s deputy. Mr Walker established the cockfighting operation with a veteran referee, Mario Perez, whose was among more than a dozen people indicted in the case.
Mr and Mrs Walker are due to be sentenced in October. The Government has recommended three-year probationary sentences for the couple, as well as the forfeiture of $200,000.
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